Government / Politics

Election 2018: San Benito County Water District Division 4

Two candidates are running in November.

The San Benito County Water District controls the water supply to county residents and oversees the sustainability of the underground water supply. Division 4 covers part of Hollister and the unincorporated areas of the county. Robert Huenemann is currently director for this division and is being challenged by Doug Williams in the Nov. 6 election.


Doug Williams has lived in San Benito County his entire life and currently resides in Pacines with his wife. He has a background in agriculture, having spent 24 years working his family’s walnut farm. He is member of San Benito County Farm Bureau.

BENITOLINK: Why are you running for this office?

WILLIAMS: I decided to run for the SBC water director position because I’m concerned about our current and future water needs, not only in District 4 but in all of San Benito County. As San Benito continues to expand in urban development and more farmland is being developed our current water supplies could be in jeopardy due to current droughts and lack of imported water.

What issues are most important to your district?

District 4 contains the San Benito River project, which consists of the Hernandez Dam, Paicines Reservoir and a canal system that diverts water from the river to the Paicines Reservoir. This water is then released into the Tres Pinos Basin. Maintenance is of the utmost importance. Runoff water can carry certain amounts of sediment (silt). This silt can then be deposited into a reservoir’s canal system, reducing capacities. I would like to help work on solutions, sediment ponds and proper cleaning of existing silt from these reservoirs and canal systems to maximize our water capacities for available water storage.

What obstacles and challenges does the district face?

Another major obstacle the water district faces is dealing with SGMA—which is a state law requiring that groundwater basins are made sustainable. SBC Water District is considered the groundwater sustainability agency that is responsible for developing a groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) to be completed by 2022 and must demonstrate sustainability by 2042. SGMA has laid out a required schedule with deadlines for GSP preparation, annual reporting and important updates every five years. A project of this magnitude requires a lot of extra work and attention. SGMA combined with day to day operations, securing water and maintaining the current infrastructure, plus planning for the future water needs of the county, is a large task ahead of the water district. I look forward to being a part of the solution.

What is the role of local government?

In my opinion, when a person is elected or appointed to a local government position, it is their duty to talk with and listen to their constituents and fairly represent them in the decisions being made.


Robert Huenemann has lived in San Benito County for 15 years has been a member of the Water Board since 2014.

Huenemann declined to speak with BenitoLink for this article.


Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.